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ICF
May 2021

Top Story
Top Story
Electric Companies Prepare for Hurricane and Wildfire Season
With forecasters predicting another active and dangerous hurricane and wildfire season, EEI and our member companies—America’s investor-owned electric companies—are reminding customers that now is the time to prepare. Taking simple steps to get ready now can be greatly beneficial if, and when, a natural disaster or other emergency occurs.

“Last year’s storm season brought an unprecedented number of named storms and many wildfires, which impacted customers and communities across the nation,” said Scott Aaronson, EEI’s vice president for security and preparedness. “Based on current forecasts, electric companies again are expecting—and preparing for—above-average storm and wildfire seasons.”

Mutual assistance is a hallmark of the electric power industry. In advance of major storms and following natural disasters that strike without notice, electric companies work together to identify potential resource needs and to line up additional personnel, equipment, and supplies that may be needed to support power restoration. This careful preparation allows for a safe entry and a rapid, organized response in the affected areas.

“Following natural disasters, crews from across the United States and Canada assemble to assist impacted communities, and their safety is paramount to EEI and to our member companies,” Aaronson added. “More than a year ago, the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council developed extensive COVID-19 protocols for our workforce, and we continue to update and follow these guidelines today. While we understand that customers may want to ask questions or thank crews during emergency power restorations, it is critical that they keep a safe distance from lineworkers and other mission-essential employees during all response efforts.”

Given the growing threat of wildfires within their service territories, electric companies continue to invest in mitigation, detection, and response efforts to reduce wildfire risk. They also are focused on prevention, protection, and partnerships. Learn more in EEI’s factsheet.
 
Customers and communities share a responsibility to prepare for emergencies, and we encourage them to start today by creating an emergency plan and preparing an emergency outage kit that is readily available should a major disaster strike.
 
Here are simple steps you can take to prepare for storm season:
Read EEI’s press release to learn more and to access more storm preparation resources. 

News From the Hill
News From the Hill
EEI Testifies at Energy Grid Infrastructure Hearing 
On May 20, senior electric power industry leaders testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on how investments in the energy grid create jobs, integrate more clean energy resources, boost reliability, and protect public health. Emily Fisher, EEI general counsel, corporate secretary, and senior vice president, clean energy, joined Linda Apsey, president and CEO, ITC Holdings, and Donnie Colston, director of the utilities department at the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers.
 
During her testimony, Fisher touted the extraordinary progress that the electric power industry has made in reducing carbon emissions: “Thanks largely to the efforts of EEI’s members, carbon emissions from the U.S. electric power sector are at their lowest level in more than 40 years and were 40 percent below 2005 levels as of year-end 2020. At the same time, 40 percent of the electricity that serves customers now comes from clean, carbon-free resources, including nuclear energy, hydropower, wind, and solar energy.” She also highlighted the industry’s significant reductions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury emissions.
 
The clean energy transformation will continue, Fisher told lawmakers, and EEI member companies will play a critical role in reducing carbon emissions economy-wide. The investments that electric companies make in electric transmission infrastructure optimize the energy grid’s performance, enabling the deployment of clean energy technologies and enhancing reliability and resiliency. They also lower the cost of delivering energy by reducing congestion. In addition, these investments create jobs and offer communities in more rural areas access to lower-cost, cleaner sources of electricity.
 
“Increased transmission investment is essential to meeting our nation’s and our industry’s clean energy goals,” Fisher said. “EEI’s member companies are committed to investing in the energy grid and to continuing to make it smarter, cleaner, stronger, more dynamic, and more secure. We look forward to working with this Committee and Congress to help achieve these goals.”
 
Watch the “Powering Up Clean Energy: Investments to Modernize and Expand the Electric Grid” hearing on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis website. Read Fisher’s testimony and EEI’s report, “Electric Transmission: Enabling the Clean Energy Transformation,” to learn more about EEI member companies’ transmission investments.

In the News
In the News
Business Diversity Award Winners
Earlier in May, EEI announced the winners of the 2021 Business Diversity Awards, which recognize companies for their outstanding efforts to advance purchasing opportunities for diverse suppliers, including minority-, women-, veteran-, and LGBTQ-owned businesses, with the investor-owned electric power industry. 
  • Ameren Corporation earned the EEI Excellence Award, which recognizes stellar contributions in diverse supplier inclusion, development, growth, partnership, and economic impact. Ameren Corporation is ranked among the nation’s top investor-owned electric companies for supplier diversity. The company’s accomplishments include active CEO- and executive-level involvement; enterprise-wide diverse spending goals; strategic sourcing events with supplier diversity securely embedded in planning; and more. 
  • Evergy earned the Innovation Award, which recognizes the implementation and execution of innovation in supplier diversity practices, as well as proven successes and benefits for diverse suppliers and for the company. Evergy’s innovation is The Light Source Mentoring Program, which was initiated as a pilot in 2007 and remains active today. 
  • Day & Zimmermann Maintenance and Construction earned the Prime Supplier Leadership Award, which is presented to an EEI member company prime supplier that has made impressive strides in diverse supplier utilization and development. Day & Zimmermann, a company that provides power plant maintenance, modifications, projects, and construction, has an enterprise-wide supplier diversity initiative with a dedicated supplier diversity administrator and a supplier diversity section on the company’s website. 
  • Solutions for Energy Efficient Logistics (SEEL) LLC earned the Diverse Business Award, presented to a diverse supplier that does superior work and supports fellow diverse suppliers in its supply chain. SEEL was nominated by DTE Energy. SEEL has expertly managed DTE Energy’s energy efficiency programs since 2009. 
“Congratulations to this year’s Business Diversity Award winners for their continued commitment to an inclusive and diverse supplier network,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “These companies and their suppliers have demonstrated, and continue to showcase, the values of our entire industry. By maintaining a diverse business environment, these companies are leading by example and are creating a better future for the customers and communities they so proudly serve. All are extremely deserving of these prestigious awards.”
 
Read EEI’s press release to learn more.

What We're Reading
What We're Reading
Bridging the Digital Divide
“Events over the past year brought to the forefront many of the inequities facing so many in our nation today,” writes James Gallegos, executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, Alliant Energy, in the latest issue of Electric Perspectives. “The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the negative consequences of living in the ‘digital divide,’ lacking reliable internet access. And the protests and unrest seen in so many communities are a call to address racial and social justice and to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion—including by enabling equal access to essential services,” he said.
 
“As electric and natural gas companies with strong connections to our customers and a long history of efficiently constructing essential infrastructure, our industry is well-positioned to help address these challenges,” he added. 
 
Read more in Electric Perspectives to learn how EEI and its member companies are helping power equity through accessible broadband.

ICF

Cybersecurity Focus
Cybersecurity Focus
EEI Statement on EO to Improve Nation’s Cybersecurity
On May 12, President Joe Biden signed an executive order (EO) aimed at strengthening U.S. cybersecurity defenses, a move that follows a series of sweeping cyberattacks on private companies and federal government networks over the past year. 

EEI President Tom Kuhn commented, “EEI and our member companies appreciate that cybersecurity has been, and continues to be, a priority for President Biden and his administration. This Executive Order clearly acknowledges the value of government-industry partnership, and we support the stated national security goals that aim to improve coordination across government and with the private sector to prepare for and respond to threats from malicious cyber actors.

“We have long maintained that grid security is a shared responsibility, and addressing dynamic threats to the energy grid requires vigilance and coordination that leverage both government and industry resources. EEI and our member companies already are working closely with our government partners through the CEO-led Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council, and this EO complements this ongoing collaboration to protect America’s critical energy infrastructure.

“Our government partners have an essential role to play in preparing for and responding to incidents that impact critical infrastructure.”
 
Learn how electric companies share information with partners in the federal government through the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC’s) Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) from Manny Cancel, E-ISAC CEO and NERC senior vice president, in Electric Perspectives.

Happening Now
Happening Now
Spotlight on the 2021 Edison Award Finalists
Since 1922, the Edison Award—the electric power industry’s most prestigious honor—has recognized electric companies for demonstrating “distinguished leadership, innovation, and contribution to the advancement of the electric industry for the benefit of all.”

This year, EEI will present the 93rd Edison Award to one U.S. and one international electric company in June. In March, an independent panel of reviewers selected finalists for the coveted distinction: The AES Corporation, Edison International/Southern California Edison, Liberty Utilities, Minnesota Power, and Xcel Energy. The reviewers also named The AES Corporation, ATCO, and J-POWER as finalists for the International Edison Award.

The finalists’ submissions are being reviewed by a judging panel composed of former EEI chairmen and other retired senior industry executives. The winners will be announced in June at EEI 2021, EEI’s premier annual event. Read edited excerpts from the finalists’ nomination presentations in the latest issue of Electric Perspectives.

Edison Award Finalists
  • The AES Corporation: As 2020 came to a close, AES began operating the Alamitos Battery Energy Storage System in Long Beach, CA. The project made history as the world’s first stand-alone energy storage project for local capacity, the first time an energy storage system was specifically procured instead of a new natural gas peaking plant in the United States, and as the world’s first grid-scale energy storage system to receive a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA).
  • Edison International/Southern California Edison (SCE): Since establishing its electric transportation department in 1991 and filing for its first Charge Ready pilot in 2014, SCE, a subsidiary of Edison International, has been ahead of the transportation electrification (TE) curve. SCE long has aligned its business goals with its customers in mind. SCE’s vision for TE addresses the real and growing need to clean the air, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, modernize infrastructure, grow well-paying jobs, and ensure no communities are left behind as California and the nation move toward clean energy. For SCE, TE is not just an opportunity, it is an imperative.
  • Liberty Utilities, a subsidiary of Algonquin Power & Utilities Corporation, successfully constructed and commissioned an innovative microgrid powering a remote mountain research station. This containerized solar-plus-battery-storage microgrid has saved customers more than $2 million by replacing a 4-mile-long grid hardening project.
  • Minnesota Power’s Great Northern Renewable Energy Initiative combines wind energy from North Dakota and Canadian hydropower through a creative asset swap, innovative PPAs, and a remarkable advocacy process. On its face, the Great Northern Transmission Line (GNTL) simply is a way to connect the energy grids of Minnesota Power and Manitoba Hydro. In reality, this transmission line is helping to transform North America’s energy landscape by meeting demand for more renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.
  • Xcel Energy has announced a pilot project to explore the production of hydrogen, a resource with strong potential to contribute 10-20 percent toward Xcel Energy’s vision of providing 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050. The pilot marks the first time a U.S. nuclear power plant will co-produce a product other than electricity on-site.
International Edison Award Finalists
  • The AES Corporation is leading Chile’s carbon reduction efforts with innovative solutions, as the nation moves toward achieving its 2050 carbon neutrality goal. In the Andes Mountains, AES’s Chilean subsidiary, AES Andes, has accomplished remarkable achievements at its state-of-the-art Cordillera Complex, an example of integrating battery energy storage systems with run-of-river hydropower. In 2020, the company commissioned the world’s first “virtual reservoir,” with cutting-edge technology to provide run-of-river hydropower with storage capacity. AES Andes also completed excavation at the largest, most innovative renewable energy project in Chile: Alto Maipo, a 531-megawatt (MW) run-of-river hydropower plant.
  • ATCO announced the completion of Canada’s largest off-grid solar and storage microgrid project in November 2020, providing the remote northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan with clean energy and significantly reducing reliance on diesel for electricity generation.
  • J-POWER drew on findings from the previous Coal Energy Application for Gas, Liquid, and Electricity, or EAGLE, project to launch the Osaki CoolGen Project jointly with the Chugoku Electric Power Co., Inc., and with support from Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization. The first phase is a demonstration testing of an oxygen-blown integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) system with 166 MW capacity. The second phase involves demonstration testing of an oxygen-blown IGCC system with carbon capture capability. The third phase is a demonstration project for an integrated gasification fuel cell system also equipped with carbon capture.
For more on how EEI’s member companies are delivering innovation for their customers, read the latest issue of Energy Talk In Depth.

Register Now
Register Now
EEI 2021: The Road to Net Zero
“EEI 2021: The Road to Net Zero” is less than two weeks away. EEI’s annual meeting will bring together the nation’s foremost thought leaders, industry executives, and policymakers for two days of conversation around the transition to clean energy and the road to net zero carbon emissions. Join us June 8-10 for key insights into what this pivotal moment of change means for EEI’s member companies and their customers.

The virtual conference will allow you to customize your event experience to fit your schedule, watching sessions live or on demand after they air. Keynotes and breakout sessions will enable attendees to connect with industry leaders on broad trends and specialized topics to give a glimpse of where the industry is headed. And, for the first time, EEI 2021 will feature a pre-conference event: an afternoon of “industry basics” for newcomers and seasoned professionals alike, covering fundamentals and giving unparalleled networking opportunities with peers and experts.
 

People in Power
Photo courtesy Pepco.
People in Power
Pepco, DC Government Honor Infrastructure Academy Graduates
Building, maintaining, and operating the energy grid requires dedicated, highly skilled workers—and EEI’s member companies have some of the most talented, caring, and dedicated workers anywhere. To build a skilled workforce pipeline for the future, electric companies work together with other energy companies and their associations, contractors, unions, and educators on a host of innovative initiatives.

One such program is the product of a partnership between Pepco, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, and the District of Columbia’s (DC’s) Department of Employment Services (DOES). On May 13, the partners virtually celebrated the graduation of the latest cohort of the Pepco Utility Training School program with the DC Infrastructure Academy (DCIA). 

“I am honored to be a part of celebrating the first class of 2021 graduates of the DCIA Pepco Utility Training School Program,” said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. “These graduates have received quality training that has prepared them for high paying jobs of the future. Shining stars like them will lead our economic recovery.” 

This first cohort of 2021 included 19 graduates, three of them women. All the graduates are on track to receive a job offer by June with Pepco or a contractor. Including this latest cohort, since 2018, more than 70 DC residents have graduated from the Pepco Utility Training School at DCIA and have been offered jobs.

“Over the last year, the pandemic has elevated essential energy workers in our consciousness and discussions with energy infrastructure continuing to be critical to the local economy,” said Sandy Fisher, vice president of transmission and substation, Pepco Holdings. “The work needed to build a smarter, stronger, and cleaner energy grid would not be possible without a high-caliber workforce. Programs like this provide a vehicle for Pepco to be meaningfully involved in connecting residents to employment opportunities and careers in the energy sector.”

Pepco expanded its support of the DCIA earlier this year, as part of a partnership with the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN), with a goal to enroll 100 participants per year to the Pepco Utility Training School. The partnership with WIN is strengthening the local workforce, expanding opportunities, and creating a robust pipeline of talent from the communities Pepco serves, while driving fair and equitable wages and increasing job opportunities for DC residents.

“The Pepco Utility Training School program is good for DC’s future and provides great guidance for individuals seeking a sense of direction and career development,” said 2021 DCIA graduate Vernon Perry. “It has been an amazing experience to work with people from different and similar backgrounds. Since joining the program, I have learned so many different things about the utility field and developed a passion for it. My plan is to continue to grow in this field.” 
Sponsored Content
Building Electrification Amid an Uncertain Future
Electrification is emerging as a market-based and policy strategy to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. Utility and public-sector leaders face considerable uncertainty about how to approach this challenge. Read this ICF white paper outlining key questions decision-makers must answer to get started on an effective path toward decarbonization.

Safety First
Safety First
May is National Electrical Safety Month
May is National Electrical Safety Month, and EEI and our member companies remind you to always stay safe around electric appliances, equipment, and power lines. Here are some simple tips you can take: 

Indoor Safety Tips 
  • Never use extension cords as a constant, long-term extension of your household’s electrical system. 
  • Continuous use can cause an extension cord to deteriorate and can result in a potentially dangerous electric shock or fire hazard. 
  • Never plug a space heater or fan into an extension cord or power strip.
  • Never plug two extension cords together. Doing so can result in overloaded circuits, short circuits, and damaged cords, which could lead to fires or electric shocks. Instead of plugging extension cords together, consider installing additional outlets where needed. 
  • Do not run cords through walls, doorways, ceilings, or under rugs or carpet. If a cord is covered, heat cannot escape and can create a fire hazard. 
  • Make sure that your extension cord or power strip is properly rated for the device that will be plugged in and is marked for either indoor or outdoor use. 
  • Never use three-prong plugs with outlets that only have two slots for the plug. Do not cut off the ground pin to force a fit. This defeats the purpose of a three-prong plug and could lead to an electrical shock. 
  • Only buy cords approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek (ETL), or Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Reduce your electrical load by using energy-efficient appliances and lighting. 
  • Regularly inspect electrical cords and extension cords for damage. 
  • Keep papers and other potential combustibles at least 3 feet away from space heaters and other heat sources. 
  • Make sure your home has smoke alarms. Test them monthly, change batteries yearly, and replace the unit every 10 years. 
Outdoor Safety Tips 
  • Know what’s below before you dig. Dial 8-1-1 to have your local electric or natural gas company representative mark the location of underground lines for free. 
  • Never touch downed power lines. 
  • Watch for overhead power lines every time you use a ladder, work on roofs and trees, or carry long tools or loads. Keep kites, model airplanes, and metallic balloons away from power lines. 
  • Do not overload outdoor electrical and/or extension cords or allow them to run through water. 
For more information, visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Podcast Alert
Podcast Alert
Check Out Electric Perspectives, The Podcast
EEI’s Electric Perspectives podcast examines news and trends in the electric power industry through interviews with industry leaders and experts. The latest episodes explore the industry’s outlook and priorities, how we can achieve a 100 percent clean energy future, and the Carbon-Free Technology Initiative launched by EEI and technology and environmental partners. The podcast also features EP: Global Circuit, which keeps you updated on international energy news and trends.

Listen and subscribe on Podbean, or wherever you get your podcasts, today. Send feedback to electricperspectives@eei.org.
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